While you might be inclined to satisfy all of the unhealthy cravings that come with pregnancy, it's in your best interest to follow a wholesome, well-balanced diet. Bad eating habits can lead to excess weight gain – exceeding the amount recommended by your doctor, of course – which can then lead to gestational diabetes. While this condition is certainly manageable, it increases the risk of multiple complications in your pregnancy. You may develop low blood sugar and Type 2 diabetes later in life, and your baby may be born prematurely, overweight or with respiratory distress syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The easiest way to ensure your baby develops properly is to follow a healthful diet throughout the gestational period. Here are seven foods we highly recommend eating during your pregnancy, plus fun and delicious ways to prepare them with some of our favorite Hallelujah Diet recipe suggestions:
According to Baby Center, beans are loaded with protein, iron, folate, potassium and magnesium, all nutrients that are critical for a healthy pregnancy. Beans are also an excellent source of fiber, which can help you avoid constipation and hemorrhoids that are common symptoms of pregnancy.
Recipe: Try our Raw Garbanzo Bean Hummus.
"Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber."
2. Sweet Potatoes
Just like carrots, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body. This vitamin is essential for bodily growth and fetal development in your baby. Sweet potatoes are another great source of fiber, reducing your chance of experiencing the harsh bowel-related symptoms that could occur during your pregnancy.
Recipe: Try our Raw Sweet Potato Soup.
Loaded with B vitamins, vitamin K, E and C, potassium, copper and monounsaturated fatty acids, eating avocados during your pregnancy can help with the development of the baby's skin, brain and tissues. Additionally, the potassium can help relieve cramps, which can be a common symptom of pregnancy.
Recipe: Try our Avocado Supreme Sandwich.
4. Whole Grains
Unlike refined grains, whole grains are rich in beneficial nutrients like fiber, B vitamins and magnesium, all of which are important for pregnant women. They're also packed with calories, which can ensure you're eating your recommended daily requirements to nourish you and your baby.
Recipe: Try our Whole Grain Blueberry Pancakes.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, especially for someone who is following a primarily raw, plant-based eating regimen like the Hallelujah Diet during pregnancy. Specifically, walnuts are especially beneficial, as they're loaded with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Recipe: Try our Raw Nut Loaf.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C, K and folate, it's no surprise why they call dark leafy greens a superfood. Options like spinach, kale and Swiss chard make delicious, fulfilling choices and are beneficial for you and your baby.
Recipe: Try our Kale, Avocado and Lemon Green Smoothie.
Berries contain lots of water, fiber, vitamin C and plant compounds that can promote optimal skin health and immune function while you're carrying a baby. Plus, they're low in terms of glycemic index value, making berries the perfect sweet treat without spiking your blood sugar to harmful levels.
Recipe: Try our Raw Organic Blueberry Pie.
Consider The Hallelujah Diet Through Pregnancy and Beyond
Following a plant-based diet during pregnancy is key to optimal nutrition for you and your baby without worrying about the potential harm caused by meat and dairy products. If you want to ensure all of your produce is healthy and safe, Olin Idol suggested taking up gardening in his book "Pregnancy, Children and The Hallelujah Diet."
"Having your own garden is one of the best ways to ensure your foods are chemical free and nutrient dense," Idol wrote. "For those who cannot or who choose not to maintain a garden, it is important to consume as much local organically grown produce as possible when in season. In this age, when commercial farming has depleted many of the minerals from its soil, it is important that we consume a wide variety of raw foods, preferably grown from various parts of the country and as fresh as possible to ensure sufficient intake of nutrients."
For more information on vitamins and nutrients you should prioritize during your pregnancy and after giving birth, refer to Idol's book "Pregnancy, Children and The Hallelujah Diet" and our Science of Her blog every Wednesday.
Also, look through our free database of recipes for a variety of ways to eat these beneficial foods during your pregnancy and beyond.